Capitol Hill food+drink | Momiji details October opening, Kingfish happy hour, Bako’s bar Guy

Item, item, whozgotta item? Here’s the latest from the dynamic universe that is Capitol Hill food+drink:

  • I don’t think we’re in Kyoto any more (Image: Momiji)

    Just under one year ago, we told you about the start of a Capitol Hill restaurant project more audacious than most. It’s almost time for Momiji. Calling it his “masterpiece,” Seattle restaurateur Steve Han is readying the 12th Ave buildout for an “early October” opening. And what a buildout it is. Han isn’t just overhauling the 74-year-old home of a long time Capitol Hill plumbing business — he went all in and purchased the old Dawson Plumbing building for a healthy $1.5 million. Add the craftsmanship reportedly going into the new space, and you start to get the sense that, like Canon being crafted in the spirit of its virtuoso,  Momiji is something a little bigger than your *typical* Capitol Hill restaurant opening. Momiji’s proud opening announcement and a sneak peek at the menu is below.

Momiji (Japanese for “maple tree”) will open early October in Seattle’s bustling Capitol Hill neighborhood, in the old Dawson Plumbing building. Steven Han, owner of Seattle’s popular Umi Sake House and Kushi Bar, is excited to open his new masterpiece that he built, literally from the ground, up.  He purchased the building, stripped it to the studs, and has built his restaurant from scratch.

To achieve the dream, Han assembled a who’s who of local artisans to bring his vision to life.Architect Hiroshi Matsubara, of GM Studios is noted as a master of modern minimalism and has designed commercial and residential projects from Seattle to Shirakawa, Japan. 

  • Craig Yamamoto, the nephew of the famous George Nakashima, hand-carved each and every table that is in the restaurant as well as the hostess stand and front door. The sushi counter was also custom built by Mr. Yamamoto.
  • Han commissioned Yuri Kinoshita, of Umbo Design, to design a custom lighting installation that will greet guests as they enter Momiji. Among Kinoshita’s notable lighting installations are “Shinkai”, featured at Seattle’s Moore Theatre for the 60th Honor Awards for Washington Architecture, “Woven Light” at the Seattle Art Museum store & Asia Art Museum, and ICFF (The International Contemporary Furniture Fair) in New York. 
  • Landscaper Junji Miki of Zen Japanese Landscape and Design, created the backyard landscape in his unique Kyoto style. 
  • Dovetail Construction led by Matt Hoffman.
  • Story Trading, led by Peter Stocker, designed the logo, sign, menus and business cards.

The menu will feature seasonal Northwest kaiseki items (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner), sushi classics, house-made soft tofu, an extensive sake menu, and a classic-style Shochu cocktail list. Chef Chikako Watanabe (originally from Tokyo) is spearheading the kaiseki menu. Prior to Momiji, Watanabe worked as a personal chef in San Francisco and most recently worked alongside Chef Lisa Nakamura at the former Cube restaurant. Executive chef Chris Vilayphanh of Umi Sake House will oversee the other menu items at Momiji.

  • A sampling of the kaiseki menu:
  • Lightly fried tofu with yuzu miso
  • Marinated salmon roe served over somen with dashi soy, topped with fresh tuna slices (or fish of the day)
  • Seasonal Vegetable Tempura served with green tea salt or dashi
  • Shrimp and scallop wrapped with yuba skin, deep fried and served with salt
  • Kakuni – slow cooked pork shoulder
  • Locally grown chicken soup with a grilled onigiri (rice ball)
  • Simmered seasonal vegetables covered with Kuzu (root starch)

1522 – 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122


(Image: Momiji)

Sunday – Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. – late
Thursday – Saturday, 4:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Kitchen will remain open: Sunday – Wednesday, until 11:00 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday until 12:45 a.m.

  • The venerable (and still awesome) Kingfish Cafe adds something new starting Monday night: happy hour, 4-6p.

    (Image: Kingfish Cafe)

  • We were told to watch for an Oola Distillery and Zoe opening not long after Labor Day but it still looks like there’s plenty of work left to do at 14th and Union. Oola’s Facebook page continues to be a great way to keep track of their efforts including the latest leap forward — they’re bottling.
  • Whoa. Capitol Hill gay bar drama.
  • CakeSpy Shop is hosting a Sweet Fair
  • A Capitol Hill food+drink death we missed this summer. RIP Pagliacci’s Tyrone Fabroa
  • Bako, cruising toward an October opening on north Broadway, has announced who will be behind the bar of the “classic” Cantonese restaurant when it opens in the former Jade Pagoda space in a few weeks. Guys’ name is Guy Lafitte:

    I liked the idea of it. You’re the chef and the server. Your guests watch you work and when it’s over they tip you for a job well done. I know it sounds kind of mercenary but I feel tipping allows you to gauge how good a job you’re doing. Behind the bar you have many roles – bartender, server, friend, confidant, father confessor, Cupid, psychologist, entertainer – just to name a few. Most treat it as a job … but I think of it as a profession. 

  • Don’t know when Terra Plata will open but it’s soon. Heck, they’re hiring a sommelier — gotta have one of those first, right? You can sign up for a “Chef’s Table” dinner there in November, now, though.
  • This essay from Poppy’s Jerry Traunfeld on the value of believing in your vision and sticking with the plan in the face of the haters is inspiring:

    The criticism hit me hard. With online rating sites and blogs, you hear everything, and the negative comments got under my skin. Many customers loved what we were doing, but others were resistant. They were used to dining a certain way and were confused by a meal set in front of them all at once in a bunch of little dishes. They wanted to know what order to eat things in and wanted instructions. Some would eat their soup and salad first and be annoyed because other food became cold. Some were expecting Indian food. I was questioned again and again if I was planning to stick with the concept. And the economy kept getting worse.

    Poppy is a CHS advertiser.

  • More deep reading. Following the memorial for Brian Fairbrother, the much-loved person, a discussion of Fairbrother, the much-respected coffee man:

    Brian spent the past twenty-plus years captaining a cafe that served no drip coffee or blended drinks, in the very heart of Starbucks land. Every single week I watched him warmly, yet firmly, explain to customers why we did not serve 12oz cappuccinos, or “let the shot run” americanos, or why an espresso really shouldn’t be taken to go. He was supremely confident in the coffee he made, and rightly so. Brian, David, and the rest of the Vivace family have spent decades figuring out what their version of perfect is, and they have tens of thousands of deeply loyal fans for whom a Vivace cappuccino is the pinnacle of coffee experience and an irreplaceable part of their day. Some people don’t feel that way about Vivace, but why on earth would Brian, or anyone else at Vivace, want to diminish the joy of thousands to try and satisfy the odd dissenters? No, much better to focus on being the best possible version of what so many already loved.

  • Tacos Chukis, charmingly, has a container garden inside the Broadway Alley.
  • Artid Siam, RIP.
  • CHS advertiser Big Mario’s now has delivery — just like everybody else, apparently.
  • We mentioned a new national chain concept using the Shophouse name last week — this week, La Bete’s little pop-up restaurant Shophouse has picked a new name. Meet Little Uncle.
  • Remember Louis the lost Boston terrier. Still famous at the Bottleneck.

This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory

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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Momiji details October opening, Kingfish happy hour, Bako’s bar Guy

  1. Ugh, having someone tell you that the reason you don’t like the food is because you don’t know how to eat it is obnoxious. Jerry: I don’t particularly like Poppy because the food isn’t that great, and is not worth the money or the hassle of eating there. I have no problem eating from little plates all set down at once (have you ever eaten Korean food? This is not a novel idea). I do have a problem paying a premium to eat just-alright food in a noisy restaurant with a chilly, unfriendly atmosphere and inattentive servers.

    On the non-hating side, woo! Kaiseki! Can’t wait for Momiji to open.

  2. Hello – checked out their Happy hour tonight, I love that place! Thank you for letting us know about this CHS! Beer is $2 (I had Red Stripe), there amazing Macaroni/cheese is $5, yam fries and a couple other items are on their happy hour menu. Just brought out their Fall menu too, mmmmm. Changed up the salmon a bit, prefer the summer version but will be back. Thanks again for always doing an awesome job!